- Students & Postdocs
- Education & Outreach
- About JILA
The faculty of JILA participates in many different outreach activities. Twelve different scientists have presented either CU Wizards shows to elementary school children and their parents on Saturday mornings, or Science Saturday talks to high school students. Two of our scientists participate in both programs. Astrophysics faculty members have also contributed their expertise to multimedia productions on black holes and written books about their field that are easy to understand by the average person. The institute donated a permanent, interactive kiosk to the outdoor Twenty Ninth Street mall, and several faculty members participated in the mall’s first Science Saturday event. Many of our young scientists-in-training donate time for presentations at local elementary schools and after-school programs.
Program Director - David Nesbitt
Now in its 34th year, CU Wizards is happy to share a new season with you as we explore the exciting worlds of physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, and more!
FREE to the public, our monthly shows entertain and inform children about the wonders of science. Shows are one Saturday morning a month and provide a perfect start to a fun-filled weekend. Although all ages are always welcome, the shows are geared toward children and young adults in grades 5-9. Chief Wizard Professor David Nesbitt and all of the Wizards look forward to seeing you there!
for more information!"
"From Big to Very Small: Microscopy & the Powers of Ten" - Tom Perkins
"Waves and Radios: The Physics of the Information Age" - Konrad Lehnert
"Black Holes!" - Andrew Hamilton
"The Chemistry of Cooking" - David Nesbitt
"At the End of the Rainbow" - Henry Kapteyn and Margaret Murnane
"The Physics of Sports" - John Bohn and Debbie Jin
"Sink or Swim" - Mathias Weber
"Speed!" - Eric Cornell
Saturday Physics Series
Each year, the CU Physics Department offers five or six one-hour talks on selected Saturday afternoons. At each talk, adults and high-school students have the opportunity to meet a CU Professor and learn about his or her research. JILA Fellows enjoy participating in these talks and sharing their passion for physics. The following talks have been presented by JILA Fellows.
Stone Cold Science: Bose-Einstein Condensation & The Weird World of Physics a Millionth of a Degree from Absolute Zero: Eric Cornell
Abstract: As atoms get colder and colder, they become more and more like waves, and less like particles. When a gas of atoms gets so cold that the "waviness" of one atom overlaps the waviness of another, the result is a sort of quantum mechanical identity crisis, a "condensation" predicted 70 years ago by Albert Einstein. Prof. Cornell will discuss how one reaches the necessary record-low temperatures, and explain why one goes to all the trouble to make this bizarre state of matter.
Strings & Drums: Microresonators Go Quantum: Cindy Regal
The sounds that arise from plucking a string or hitting a drum are a result of acoustic mechanical vibrations. Modern microfabrication techniques allow researchers to make very tiny resonators with similar mechanical vibrations, but with dimensions of microns. In this lecture, Cindy Regal will show how physicists can now cool microresonators to where quantum mechanics is required to describe their behavior. The experiments use a combination of techniques including manipulating and detecting the mechanical motion with light. These cold microresonators are a new quantum resource that may have unique applications in quantum information processing.
The Supercool Atom Computer: Anna Maria Rey
Approximately every 18 months, microprocessors double their speed and decrease their size. If computers continue to become faster and smaller at this rate, they will soon reach the scale of only a few atoms. At this scale, the world will behave in a different way than we are used to. The laws of quantum mechanics will dominate, and quantum technology will have to replace or supplement what we have today. Quantum laws are very different from the classical laws that rule the everyday world. And, they offer the possibility of outstanding technological developments. For instance, a quantum computer will be able to perform tasks impossible for classical computers.
To build a practical quantum computer, however, is a very difficult task. Just the idea of a quantum computer has led to intense theoretical and experimental efforts across different fields of physical science and mathematics. In this talk, I review the main differences between classical and quantum laws and explain how we can take advantage of these differences to process information more efficiently. I will describe the various physical systems proposed to implement a quantum computer and, in particular, discuss some ideas on how a computer based on cold atoms would work.
Ultrafast Photography with Lasers: Andreas Becker
In high speed photography, moving objects are frozen as pictures on film by the shutter or the flash light of a camera. However, many phenomena in physics and chemistry are too fast to be captured by an ordinary camera. Ultrafast laser pulses are the tools physicists use to freeze an atom or molecule in motion. My talk describes this type of ultrafast photography and its applications in a new field of research called attophysics.
Billiards at the Nanoscale: Heather Lewandowski
Interactions between free-radical molecules drive many important processes including chemistry in the atmosphere. These processes are complicated and difficult to understand because the molecules are at a relatively high temperature and thus have a large distribution of velocities. Recently, we have begun to cool free-radical molecules to near absolute zero where the molecules’ motion is reduced dramatically. We can now study how molecules interact and react with unprecedented precision. I will describe how we cool the molecules and what we can learn by studying their interactions.
The game of baseball is strongly influenced by the aerodynamics of its central object, the ball. In Denver, where the air is 20% less dense than at sea level, a batted ball can be hit significantly farther, and a curve ball will curve significantly less. In an attempt to mitigate these effects, the Colorado Rockies began storing baseballs in a humidity-controlled environment in 2002. In this lecture, I will discuss the physics behind the flight of a baseball and the changes that altitude makes in the game. I will also estimate the likely effects that storing balls in a humidor have on pitching and batting.
Bose-Einstein Condensation: Quantum Weirdness at the Lowest Temperature in the Universe: Carl Wieman
In 1924, Einstein predicted that a gas would undergo a dramatic transformation at a sufficiently low temperature (now known as Bose-Einstein condensation or BEC). In 1995, my group was able to observe this transformation by cooling a gas sample to the unprecedented temperature of less than 100 billionths of a degree above absolute zero. The BEC state is a novel form of matter in which a large number of atoms lose their individual identities and behave as a single quantum entity, or "superatom". This entity is the atom analogue to laser light, and, although large enough to be easily seen and manipulated, exhibits the nonintuitive quantum behavior normally important only at much tinier size scales. The study and use of the curious properties of BEC has now become an important subfield of physics. I will discuss how we create BEC and some of the subsequent research we have done on it. Interactive applets as a tool for teaching science will be demonstrated in the presentation.
Black Holes Inside and Out: Andrew Hamilton
Would you like to jump into a black hole? Using a treadmill and a lot of imagination, Professor Andrew Hamilton will help you fall in, video you doing it, and explain how black holes work. Discover where you can find a black hole on the simulated night sky at Fiske Planetarium. Find out about how black holes make jets, and how big the Earth would be if it were compressed to a black hole.
Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity, has been showing at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science’s Planetarium since February 2006. Science Director: Andrew Hamilton
NOVA: Monster of the Milky Way aired on Oct. 31, 2006. Andrew Hamilton participated as science advisor and on-air expert interviewee.
National Geographic Channel: Monster Black Holes (2008), now available on DVD. Andrew Hamilton participated as science advisor and was interviewed for this show.
General Audience Books
Mitchell Begelman and Martin Rees, Gravity’s Fatal Attraction, 2nd Ed. (Cambridge University Press, 2010)
Mitchell Begelman, Turn Right at Orion: Travels Through the Cosmos (Basic Books, 2001).
Other Outreach Activities
“Wired Science” lessons at Lafayette Elementary School
Twenty Ninth Street Mall Kiosk